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Riverkeeper and Executive Director
Meredith Brown is a strong science-based voice for the Ottawa River, acting as its full-time “watchdog”. Since 2004, Meredith has significantly raised the profile of the Ottawa River and brought important issues such as sewage dumping and radioactive waste to the attention of the public and decision-makers. The Riverkeeper is regularly called on to comment on issues that impact the river and to provide insightful solutions and recommendations to improve the health and future of the Ottawa River.
Meredith holds biology and environmental engineering degrees from Queen’s University and the University of Guelph. She also earned a Masters in Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University where she studied with Robert Newbury, a world-renowned river engineer and stream restoration specialist.
Meredith’s compelling leadership and collaborative approach has brought excellent results and Meredith is networked with key players throughout the watershed. Meredith sits on several advisory committees including an Environmental Stewardship Committee with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, the Fisheries Management Advisory Committee for the Ottawa River with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the City of Ottawa’s Stormwater Management Advisory Committee. Meredith was recently named a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
Alex Brett comes to Ottawa Riverkeeper with a firm grounding in aquatic biology, over 20 years of work in science communications, and a broad range of experience producing exhibitions, articles, print and audio products, and educational material, all with a focus on making science relevant and engaging to a wide range of people. After years of working in and around the federal government, she is delighted to finally have a job where asking questions and demanding change are part of the job description. Alex holds a BSc (Hons) from Dalhousie University and spent several years in graduate school in fish biology. In addition to working in science communications she has done time as a park naturalist and a fisheries technician. She has also published two crime novels, both revolving around science fraud.
Coordinator, Finance and Administration
Mary Halliwell-Cyr is a Jack-of-all-trades. She has a BA in History in Art from the University of Victoria, a diploma in Museum Technology from Algonquin College, and she holds certification as a website designer. She is also a skilled renovator, painter and builder. With museums, Mary classified and photographed artifacts, and built specialized mounts for their display. From there, her career took her into various positions with both provincial and federal governments. Mary has worked as a senior policy analyst shepherding legislation through the legislative process, and as a records analyst and manager, developing record systems and training staff in their use. She came to Ottawa Riverkeeper as a volunteer photo archivist in 2008. Mary was born on Lake of the Woods in Kenora, Ontario, and was raised at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in Winnipeg, and in Victoria surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. She is an outdoors person with a profound respect for water, and its ability to nuture and sustain communities. She brings to Riverkeeper outstanding skills, incredible efficiency and organization, and an indomitable spirit.
Riverwatch Program Coordinator
Meaghan is a wetland ecologist who has spent much of her time studying plant community responses to global change phenomena in northern peatlands, including Ottawa’s Mer Blue Bog. Her passion for grassroots stewardship programs began with her work as a program assistant with the Casco Bay Keeper, South Portland, Maine, where she worked on a number of outreach programs including their award-winning Citizen Stewards Water Quality Monitoring Program. Since then she has made environmental issues and environmental science central to her academic studies, research, and volunteer work. Her passion for the Ottawa River, its health and functioning, and the people and communities that rely on it, make the Riverwatch Coordinator position here at the Ottawa Riverkeeper a dream job for Meaghan. Meaghan holds a Ph.D. (geography) and M.Sc. (biology) from McGill University and a B.A. (Env. Studies) from Mount Holyoke College. She has taught at both McGill and Carleton University and been a post-doctoral fellow at both Université du Quebéc à Montréal and McGill.
Swim Guide Coordinator
Chloé is a 4th year biology student specializing in ecology and animal behaviour at the University of Ottawa, with a strong interest in aquatic ecosystems. Growing up in Ottawa, weekends were spent cycling along the Rideau Canal, hiking in the Gatineau Park or spending time outdoors, initiating her enthusiasm for environmental issues. Her experience as a conservation volunteer in New Zealand last summer allowed her to pursue her passion and encourage people to restore and protect the native species and the precious Manawatu estuary. Her position as Swim Guide Coordinator at Ottawa Riverkeeper allows her to raise public awareness of the importance of keeping our waterways clean, safe and enjoyable.
Bilingual Volunteer Coordinator – Bio coming soon.
Stephanie Bolt – Stephanie studied international relations and law at the University of Toronto and has worked as a corporate-commercial lawyer. For the past year, Stephanie has been very generously giving Riverkeeper at least one day a week of her time to help us prepare for the new Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act. In addition, she has researched the legal aspects of various issues impacting the river. Stephanie grew up on the St. Lawrence River and loves to swim, sail and generally be in and around water. She came to Ottawa Riverkeeper wanting to help ensure that the Ottawa River remains swimmable, drinkable and fishable! And now that she’s tasted the bait, she’s hooked. She looks forward to continuing to focus on environmental law.
As an enthusiastic promoter and defender of the French language with many years of work in science communication, Patricia is involved in a number of activities for Ottawa Riverkeeper. She applies her knowledge and expertise to promote the messages and values of Ottawa Riverkeeper – in both official languages. The health of the river, its biodiversity and its importance to local communities are issues that inspire her to volunteer her time for a cause she feels strongly about. Having worked several years in and around the public service, Patricia pursued her interest in science education at the Museum of Science and Technology and as a freelance writer and editor in both English and French. Patricia holds a B.Sc. (Hon.) from the University of Ottawa.
Ashley Brasfield – Bio coming soon.
The Board of Directors of Ottawa Riverkeeper is responsible for the strategic direction of the organization and provides guidance to the Riverkeeper and Executive Director. The board is elected at the annual general meeting by the members and acts in accordance with the by-laws of Ottawa Riverkeeper Inc. Our board members have extensive and diverse organizational, business, community, and technical expertise with a common concern and passion for the ecological welfare of the Ottawa River.
Geoff Green – Chair: Geoff is the founder and director of the Canadian-based organization Students on Ice, a pioneering program dedicated to taking high school students from around the world on learning expeditions to both the Arctic and the Antarctic. Geoff has been leading expeditions and adventures from pole to pole for the past decade and organizations such as the Discovery Channel, World Wildlife Fund, National Audubon and the Smithsonian Institution have enlisted him to lead their groups into the world’s most remote and exciting regions. In December 2012, Geoff was appointed to the prestigious Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour. This was in recognition of a lifetime of distinguished service to his community and to his field “for his contributions as an environmental educator and explorer, notably his commitment to conservation issues in the Arctic and Antarctic.” He is an international ambassador for several organizations including Canada Goose, Jardin des Glaciers and the Mingan Island Cetecean Study. Geoff lives in Chelsea, Québec on the Gatineau River. To learn more about Geoff, visit www.geoffgreen.ca.
Barry Stemshorn – Vice Chair: A veterinarian trained at the Faculté de médecine vétérinaire de l’Université de Montréal and long-licensed in Quebec, Barry enjoyed more than 32 years of experience in the Public Service of Canada. He served in the Privy Council Office in 1999-2000 where he advised ministers and the Prime Minister on difficult aspects of natural resources, energy and environmental policies. In 2000 he was appointed as Assistant Deputy Minister for the Environmental Protection Service, responsible for Canada’s legislation to prevent and reduce pollution. He oversaw the creation of the Environmental Stewardship Branch in 2005, drawing together all of the Department’s regulatory work on environmental conservation and protection. Currently he is a Senior Fellow with the Jarislowsky Chair in Public Sector Management in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. Barry and his wife Charlotte Rigby donated 250 acres of land to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to create the Litchfield Lake Wetlands Reserve in Pontiac County, Quebec. Barry enjoys telemark and cross-country skiing, canoeing and fly fishing.
Mark Patry – Treasurer: Mark is a chartered accountant and is currently a partner with Welch LLP, an Ottawa-based public accounting firm. Fishing has always been Mark’s passion and he gets out on the river regularly. Mark is a member of Muskies Canada as well as the Ottawa and Kingston Field Naturalists’ clubs, where he pursues his new passion of birding. Over the years, Mark has witnessed many changes in the river that affect fish and their habitat including invasive species, shoreline development and increased boat traffic.
Regan Morris – Secretary: Regan is legal counsel to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. He holds a B.Sc. (biology) and law degrees (common law and civil law) from McGill University. Prior to joining the federal public service, Regan clerked for Justice Michel Bastarache at the Supreme Court of Canada. He has also worked for the Law Commission for England and Wales, a national law firm in Montreal, and the Environmental Law Centre in Edmonton, Alberta. He is co-author of the book The Law of Bilingual Interpretation. Regan grew up near the picturesque Saint John River in Fredericton, New Brunswick and has fond memories of swimming in the Gatineau River during visits to the family cottage as a child. Regan lives in Ottawa with his wife and young son, with whom he hopes to share the beauty and splendour of the Ottawa River one day very soon.
David Spence – Past President: David is co-founder of the Wetland Preservation Group; founder and current director of the Friends of the Carp River; past chair of the West Carleton Environmental Advisory Committee; past chair and current member of the Ottawa Stewardship Council; and current director of the Ottawa Wild Bird Care Centre as well as sitting on boards for the Ottawa Rural Clean Water Program, Ottawa Deer Management Committee and numerous public advisory committees relating to development within the Carp River watershed. David’s commitment to the Ottawa River comes from having cherished a speck of shoreline near Arnprior where his family has enjoyed a cottage since the year he was born.
Fabien Beaudet: Author, consultant and public speaker, Fabien Beaudet successfully combines his professional life with his deep environmental concerns. M. Beaudet completed university studies in social science, economics, business and, most recently, environmental studies. Since 1986 he has worked in regional economic development with a particular focus on innovation. M. Beaudet has also managed regional risk-capital funds and has worked as an advisor to innovative companies in manufacturing, information technology, environmental technology and biotechnology. Over the past 15 years, his interest in innovation and his passion for the environment have led to his collaboration on diverse projects in the environmental sector, including the opening of a research centre in Montreal devoted to the development of water-related technology. In all his work – and through his recent book, L’eau . . . Code Rouge ! – he emphasizes the urgent need to change our economic, social and cultural behaviour if we wish to avert the environmental crisis we face.
John G. Booth: John holds an Honours B.Sc. in Freshwater Biology and Environmental Science (Guelph), LLB (Windsor), JD (Detroit), and LLM in International Environmental, Tax and Finance Law (London). He is a member of the Bar in Ontario, New York, and Washington DC. Throughout his 24-year career in international capital markets, John has looked for capital market solutions to environmental issues. Following a stint as a lawyer on Bay Street, he moved to London to join Merrill Lynch International in 1990, and has worked with a number of international banks over the years. John also co-founded three start-ups in the financial services sector. He serves on several boards of directors and is also the Executive Chairman of BuyFX Ltd, an online foreign exchange matching business he co-founded in 1999. He grew up in Ottawa as one of the pilot French immersion students and is an avid white water paddler and wilderness tripper who cares passionately about limnology and shorelines protection issues.
Marc Smith: Marc is a Director of Product Management at Canada Post. He has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, product management, business strategy and strategic governance in numerous private and public sector organizations. Marc’s greatest strength has been, and remains, the development of business strategies that align rigorously with organizational goals. Marc is specifically interested in the execution of strategic plans that optimize available resources to deliver the greatest measurable results in line with strategic objectives. Born into a francophone family in Ottawa, Marc spent his childhood in Chicoutimi, Quebec, on the shores of the Saguenay River, and returned to Ottawa as an adolescent to spend his summers playing and working on National Capital Area beaches. Today he can often be seen fly fishing on the Ottawa River and its tributaries, or jogging along their shores.
Carrie Wallace: Carrie has a long history of marrying her passion for the outdoors with a love of business and community development. Carrie joins us with 20+ years of experience developing enterprises that encourage enjoyment of and appreciation for the natural world. Carrie earned an MBA from the University of Ottawa and is a managing partner in Common Ground, a community driven development located in Chelsea, Quebec. Carrie is leading this development of a conservation community based on preserving greenspace and the agricultural heritage of the farm on which it is located.
Lara Van Loon: Lara has spent her working life studying, restoring and protecting rivers. She studied marine biology, and holds an Honours B.A. in Philosophy (Dalhousie), and a Masters in Environmental Studies (York University). Lara’s passion for studying the rivers in New Brunswick led to organising river surveys and restoration projects, while working with different groups such as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, watershed groups, and fish and game clubs. Lara thrived in her role as spokesperson for southern New Brunswick rivers. Lara served as the Ottawa River’s first full-time Riverkeeper. After having twin girls, and spending several years working with Nova Scotia Nature Trust, she returned to Ottawa and joined the Ottawa Riverkeeper Board of Directors. Lara, her three daughters and husband James are all devotees of the river, and bike, sail, or swim on the river as often as they can.